Massachusetts Criminal Procedure Rule 11: Pretrial Conference and Pretrial Hearing
(Applicable to cases initiated on or after September 7, 2004)
(a) The Pretrial Conference. At arraignment, except on a complaint regarding which the court will not exercise final jurisdiction, the court shall order the prosecuting attorney and defense counsel to attend a pretrial conference on a date certain to consider such matters as will promote a fair and expeditious disposition of the case. The defendant shall be available for attendance at the pretrial conference. The court may require the conference to be held at court under the supervision of a judge or clerk-magistrate.
(1) Conference Agenda. Among those issues to be discussed at the pretrial conference are:
(A) Discovery and all other matters which, absent agreement of the parties, must be raised by pretrial motion. All motions which cannot be agreed upon shall be filed pursuant to Rule 13(d).
(B) Whether the case can be disposed of without a trial.
(C) If the case is to be tried, (i) the setting of a proposed trial date which shall be subject to the approval of the court and which when fixed by the court shall not be changed without express permission of the court; (ii) the probable length of trial; (iii) the availability of necessary witnesses; and (iv) whether issues of fact can be resolved by stipulation.
(A) Filing. A conference report, subscribed by the prosecuting attorney and counsel for the defendant, and when necessary to waive constitutional rights or when the report contains stipulations as to material facts, by the defendant, shall be filed with the clerk of the court pursuant to subdivision (b)(2)(i). The conference report shall contain a statement of those matters upon which the parties have reached agreement, including any stipulations of fact, and a statement of those matters upon which the parties could not agree which are to be the subject of pretrial motions. Agreements reduced to writing in the conference report shall be binding on the parties and shall control the subsequent course of the proceeding.
(B) Failure to File. If a party fails to participate in a pretrial conference or to cooperate in the filing of a conference report, the adverse party shall notify the clerk of such failure. If a conference report is not filed and a party does not appear at the pretrial hearing, no request of that party for a continuance of the trial date as scheduled shall be granted and no pretrial motion of that party shall be permitted to be filed, except by leave of court for cause shown. If the parties fail to file a conference report or do not appear at the pretrial hearing, the case shall be presumed to be ready for trial and shall be scheduled for trial at the earliest possible time. The parties shall be subject to such other sanctions as the judge may impose.
(b) The Pretrial Hearing. At arraignment, except on a complaint regarding which the court will not exercise final jurisdiction, the court shall order the prosecuting attorney and defense counsel to appear before the court on a date certain for a pretrial hearing. The defendant shall be available for attendance at the hearing. The pretrial hearing may include the following events:
(1) Tender of Plea. The defendant may tender a plea, admission or other requested disposition, with or without the agreement of the prosecutor.
(2) Pretrial Matters. Unless the Court declines jurisdiction over the case or disposes of the case at the pretrial hearing, the pretrial hearing shall include the following events:
(i) Filing of Pretrial Conference Report. The prosecuting attorney and defense counsel shall file the pretrial conference report with the clerk of court.
(ii) Discovery and Pretrial Motions. The court shall hear all discovery motions pending at the time of the pretrial hearing. Other pending pretrial motions may be heard at the pretrial hearing, continued to a specified date for a hearing, or transmitted for hearing and resolution by the trial session.
(iii) Compliance and Trial Assignment. The court shall determine whether the pretrial conference report is complete, all discovery matters have been resolved, and compliance with all discovery orders has been accomplished. If so, the court shall obtain the defendant's decision on waiver of the right to a jury trial, and assign a trial date or trial assignment date. If completion of either the pretrial conference report or discovery is still pending, the court shall schedule and order the parties to appear for a compliance hearing pursuant to Rule 11(c) unless the aggrieved party waives the right to a compliance hearing.
(iv) The court may issue such additional orders as will promote the fair, speedy and orderly disposition of the case.
(1) determining whether the pretrial conference report and discovery are complete and, if necessary, hearing and deciding discovery motions and ordering appropriate sanctions for non-compliance;
(2) receiving and acting on a tender of plea or admission; and
(3) if the pretrial conference report and discovery are complete, obtaining the defendant's decision on waiver of the right to a jury trial, and scheduling the trial date or trial assignment date.